What is web scraping?
Web scraping is a technique used to gather huge amounts of data from the internet. In layman terms, web scraping can be understood as copying huge volumes of data into a local database from across the internet. This data can then be utilized at a later stage for various purposes.
Web scraping for email addresses
Email scrapers dig through the internet to find email addresses. These email addresses are generally used in order to send bulk emails to the holders of these email addresses. Email scrapers may or may not use the data they scrap themselves. They might sell it to other bulk mailers for a fee.
Effectiveness of email scrapers
If you are the owner of a new business and there is no awareness of your product or service in the market, then using the data provided to you by email scrapers to contact people and increase awareness might be a good idea. You would be able to reach to many potential customers by sending out bulk emails, often called spam mail, to all these email addresses.
Even if you are an established business, the data provided by email scrapers can be used to scale your business. Moreover, this method to scale up is pretty inexpensive as it does not cost much to procure the data provided by email scrapers. Lead generation can increase multifold if this data is used effectively.
However, there are many downsides to using email addresses procured via email scrapers. We mean to say that email scrapers should not be the only source for procuring email addresses. Various other methods are available and when you find that the click-through rate for the bulk emails that you are sending out is plateauing, we suggest going for one of these methods. In what follows, we discuss the reasons why data obtained via email scrapers or web scraping, in general, might be ineffective:
(i) ‘Important’ email addresses might not be available through email scrapers
People at higher designations in their organization would not share their email addresses in the public domain. In a lot of cases, they are urged not to do this by the organization itself. These people are the eventual decision makers in the organization and if your business does not reach them, which it might not by using email scraping then selling your product or service to their business would be difficult.
Also, in this age, people switch jobs quite frequently. And once this happens, the IT department at these companies delete their email addresses as soon as they are out of the door. This means that even if you do manage to get the correct person’s email address through email scraping, there is no guarantee that this is the present email address and might be the email address that was used by the person previously and is no longer in use.
(ii) Web scrapers or crawlers are blocked from entering
Websites which experience a lot of traffic promise users that all their data and private information would be secure with them. As a result, they keep the email addresses along with all other private information securely hidden. In some instances, a login is required just to go beyond the landing page. This means that email scrapers or crawlers aren’t able to access the data that is present on these websites, which in most instances can be the best source for actual in-use email addresses.
(iii) Emails aren’t delivered
Another major issue with using email scrapers’ data is that the bounce rate for the emails you send out goes up. As stated earlier, the email addresses that are scraped from the internet might not be in use any longer for a variety of reasons. So, if you send emails to these email addresses, there will be no one on the other side meaning your emails won’t get delivered. This leads to high bounce rates.
Bounce Rate = (Number of emails not delivered) / (Number of emails sent)
High bounce rates mean that you are burning your cash by paying the email scrapers as a high percentage of the email addresses in their data are no longer in use.
(iv) Low click-through rates
Another issue with the email addresses obtained via email scrapers is that this data is available to anybody and everybody who wishes to send out bulk emails. Everybody that would look to send out bulk emails would scrape through the internet to find emails that are available or would get in touch with an email scraper to get the email addresses.
The downside to this is that all of these businesses including yours is sending all your promotional emails to these same email addresses. Many individuals around the world have probably marked these as spam emails and they, therefore, go straight into spam rather than into the inbox. The chances of these bulk emails getting read, therefore, are pretty less. This leads to a decrease in the click-through rate for your emails.
Click through rate = (Number of emails opened (read)) / (Number of emails sent)
Alternatives to email scrapers
As seen in the reasons given above, data procured via email scrapers can be ineffective beyond a certain point. But if you need to send out promotions in order to make people aware of your business or to scale your business there are other alternatives that are available. Some of these alternatives are given below:
(i) Get the consent of the email recipient
You can ask the potential email recipients to subscribe to your newsletter urging them to mark you as ‘not spam’. This would ensure high click-through rates for your promotional emails that you send to them.
(ii) Search Engines
Websites like Hoover and Zoominfo procure the email addresses from the outlook accounts of their users. This ensures that a high percentage of the email addresses are in use and therefore the bounce rate is pretty less if these services are used. However, these websites have paid subscriptions, and this has to be kept in mind before deciding to go for them.
All in all, web scraping can be effective in the short run for generating awareness for your business. But eventually, the click-through rate plateaus and the bounce rates increase. When your business promotion hits this point we urge you to go for other alternatives like Hoover and Zoominfo.